Pages tagged "Nevada"


Patients and industry win in Nevada

Medical cannabis patients and industry teamed up to win an important victory in Nevada yesterday. A crowd of more than 100 patients, industry workers, lawmakers, and other stakeholders persuaded the state’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health to abandon plans to limit the number of licensed cultivation facilities authorized under state law.

Law enforcement lobbyist were pressuring the Division to limit cultivation statewide, but Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and other stakeholders told staff that limits would choke off access to medicine for legal patients. Staff listened. There will be no limits on cultivation permits – for now. We will have to stay vigilant to be sure medical cannabis opponents do not keep pushing to roll back safe access in the state. 

Pictured: Serina Choi and Lauren Payne from NLS with me at their office in Las Vegas

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Nevada Draft Dispensary Regulations Incorporate AHPA and AHP Best Practices

nevada-agency-hbtv-hemp-beach-tv-300x199.jpgThe Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health recently issued draft regulations regarding the implementation of SB 374 (2013), the bill passed earlier this year authorizing dispensaries, cultivation sites, and testing labs in the state. From the perspective of medical cannabis quality assurance and product safety, these proposed regulations would be among the most comprehensive in the nation. This is due in large part to the Division utilizing much of the wisdom of the American Herbal Products Association’s (AHPA) recommendations for best practices of medical cannabis providers, as well as a requirement that testing laboratories are to meet standards set by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) monograph, which was issued earlier this month. 

While ASA is largely encouraged by what we saw in the draft regulations, there are areas where we wish to see improvement. We will be submitting the following comments to the Division, and we encourage others to do so before the December 23 deadline. Please feel free to copy, borrow, or add to our comments when writing your own.

Comments should be submitted to medicalmarijuana@health.nv.gov by 9am PST on Monday December 23rd.

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Nevada Advocacy

ASA relies on the strength of our grassroots activists to fight for medical cannabis at the local and state levels. The best way for new advocates to get involved is by joining or starting a chapter to work on local issues. If there are not any local resources near to you, consider starting your own official ASA Chapter or Action Group!


Wake Up Obama: Cannabis Patients Vote!

This is a photo of me at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I had just heard one of the most politically motivating speeches of my life from a candidate for president. I was moved to tears, joyous, and inspired. This candidate not only filled me with hope about the future of our nation, but said he would not interfere with access to legal medical cannabis.

I was ecstatic to be shedding the dark days of the Bush Administration's war on medical cannabis patients. As a patient myself, I felt counted and part of the Change that would be coming to Washington, and I was proud to support and volunteer for Barack Obama's victorious campaign.

For his 2008 campaign, I donated money, I went to rallies to show support, I knocked on doors in VA,  and on election night I joined thousands in D.C. who descended on the White House to celebrate and sing "Na, Na, Na, Na, Good bye" to President Bush. I went to sleep that night excited about a new direction for this country that would include me as a recognized medical cannabis patient.

From the beginning, the new administration made supportive statements about medical cannabis, including that the President was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." On October 19, 2009, we got the policy document we had been waiting for. Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum, now know as the "Ogden Memo," instructing U.S. attorneys to limit marijuana enforcement to those operating out of compliance with state law.

With this legal guidance, the medical cannabis movement went to work to pass new state laws protecting patients and those who provided their medication. Advocates, community members, and officials spent thousands of hours drafting legislation and regulations in at least eleven states. But when legislators and other state and local officials came close to passing or implementing these laws, they received letters from U.S. attorneys, threatening federal arrest and prosecution.

Dismayed by this apparent reversal in the Obama Administration's policy, patients demanded the President rein in the US Attorneys. Instead we got the "Cole Memo," issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, laying out a new interpretation of the Obama Administration's policy. The memo gave the Justice Department free rein in medical cannabis states, to undermine state laws and coerce local lawmakers. The Cole Memo launched an unprecedented attack on the medical cannabis community unprecedented in its scope.

In fewer then fours years of President Obama, we have seen more raids on dispensaries than during the Bush Administration's entire eight-year tenure. The Obama Administration has taken property from landlords, threatened local officials, forced the release of patient records, used the Internal Revenue Service to bankrupt legitimate dispensaries, told banks to purge medical cannabis clients, evicted patients from low-income housing, and denied a petition to recognize the well-established medical value of cannabis.

Now as President Obama approaches the vote on his reelection, I and other medical cannabis patients are finding it impossible to renew our support. How can I vote for someone who has broken his promise? How can I vote for someone who can't see very real public health needs? How can I vote for someone who wages war on my fellow patients and me?

There are more than one million legal medical cannabis patients across the country and millions more waiting to become legal. We have friends and family in every state, and there are many of us in states that are key to the Obama reelection campaign: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

I care a lot about this country and my fellow Americans, and I have always volunteered for candidates during election years. Now, instead of going to rallies or buying tickets to fundraisers, I will be protesting at campaign stops like the one today in downtown Oakland. Instead of working to elect a president, I'll be joining thousands of medical cannabis advocates at Camp Wakeupobama, a virtual summer camp during which we will press our case to the President.

President Obama, you can move medical cannabis policy forward and win this election - 74% of voters disagree with your attacks on state compassionate use laws.

Medical cannabis patients will be on the campaign trail, however you can still determine what our signs will say.

Indictments Thrown Out by Nevada Judge, Who Said the State’s Medical Marijuana Law “Makes No Sense”



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Nevada trial court judge threw out an indictment Monday against Leonard Schwingdorf and Nathan Hamilton, two medical marijuana dispensary operators arrested in federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement raids on several Las Vegas facilities last year. This was the first legal disposition since the Obama DEA raided at least 5 area dispensaries on September 8, 2010, indicting 15 people as a result.

When dismissing the indictments, Nevada District Judge Donald Mosley called the state’s law “mind boggling.” Judge Mosley further questioned the legislature’s failure to craft a law that benefits patients:
[W]hy don't they (the Legislature) make up their mind if they want to make it legal or not…I can't make any sense out of this law.

Judge Mosley also asked about the law:
Are people supposed to give it away? I mean it just makes no sense.

Although all 15 indictments stemming from last year’s raids were initially filed in federal court, only 7 remain as federal cases. The rest of the indictments, two of which were tossed earlier this week by Judge Mosley, were transferred to state court.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, defendants have called the state law “paradoxical because it allows patients registered with the state to possess the herb, but makes it illegal to obtain it.”

Mosley agreed with defense attorneys in their allegations that prosecutors withheld important medical-related information from the grand jury that indicted Schwingdorf and Hamilton.

Seven federal prosecutions are still pending as are another state case, which will be heard Friday by District Judge Doug Smith. An indictment against multiple operators and the vagueness of Nevada’s medical marijuana law will again be at issue this Friday.

Urge Governors to Stand Up for Patient Rights

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In the past few months, United States Attorneys General in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont  have issued letters threatening federal action against any entity, including state employees, participating in state sanctioned medical cannabis programs.  While our community has seen these types of letters under previous administrations, it is disappointing to see President Obama sanction this behavior.



While many promises have been made by Obama to end raids on the medical cannabis community, these DOJ threat letters are yet another tactic of the federal government to interfere with patients’ right to safe access.  ASA recently issued Obama’s Medical Cannabis Report Card, showing he has failed at improving conditions for our community.  These threat letters are further evidence of the broken promises of the current administration and proof  that our community is under attack. 

Over the next couple of weeks, our community must call upon our state representatives for leadership.  We must urge our governors, whether they have received a threat letter or not, to join Americans for Safe Access in a push back against the U.S. Attorneys who have issued these threat letters against our community. 

In order to make this campaign a success, your governors needs to hear from you.  As a constituent, ask for his or her leadership against federal interference.  Call your governor today and use the following script.  Please find contact information for your governor below.  The District of Columbia should reach out to Mayor Gray whose number is listed below, and also included in the electronic action alert. 

Governor (or Mayor for DC Residents)—

As a concerned medical cannabis community member and your constituent, I am worried about the impact these threat letters from the Department of Justice and the potential for federal interference will have on safe access to medical cannabis in my state.  Letters have been issued to eight states so far, and we need to send a message asserting our state’s right to safe access. We need you the lead the charge to end federal interference and work toward creating policies that will resolve the federal conflict once and for all.

Thank you.


You may also participate in our online action alert by clicking here to ask your governor and congressional leaders to take a stand for safe access.

REPRESENTATIVE CONTACT INFORMATION

ALASKA
Governor Sean Parnell
Tel: (907) 465-3500

ARIZONA
Governor Jan Brewer
Tel:(602)542-4331

CALIFORNIA
Governor Jerry Brown
Tel:(916)445-2841

COLORADO
Governor John Hickenlooper
Tel:(303)866-2471

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Mayor Vincent Gray
Tel:(202)727-2980

DELAWARE
Governor Jack Markell
Tel:(302)577-3210

HAWAII
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Tel:(808)586-0034

MAINE
Governor Paul LePage
Tel:(207)287-3531

MARYLAND
Governor Marin O'Malley
Tel:(410) 974-3901

MICHIGAN
Governor Rick Snyder
Tel:(517)373-7858

MONTANA
Governor Brian Schweitzer
Tel:(406)444-3111

Activists rally against the imprisonment of patients & in defiance of increased federal attacks in medical marijuana states

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) staged rallies yesterday in Sacramento, California and Washington, DC to bring attention to the unnecessary incarceration of more medical marijuana patients and to defy what has become an escalated federal attack on medical marijuana states. As part of its "Sick and Tired" campaign, ASA members and supporters also delivered "Cease & Desist" orders to federal authorities in 10 medical marijuana states.





The rally in Sacramento was to support Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer as they surrendered to federal authorities, beginning a new chapter to their decade-long battle with the federal government. After being raided in 2001, despite approval to cultivate and repeated inspections by the local sheriff, they were eventually charged in 2005. Denied a medical defense in federal court, Fry and Schafer were convicted in 2007 of manufacturing, and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. They appealed their sentence, but it was vigorously fought by the Obama Administration. Be sure to urge Obama to grant Fry and Schafer clemency.

Additional photos of the Sacramento rally can be seen here and here.

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The same day, activists rallied in front of the Justice Department in Washington, DC chanting, "Obama be bolder, put a leash on Holder!" In recent weeks, raids in medical marijuana states have been on the rise. Since the Justice Department memo was issued in October 2009, discouraging federal enforcement actions in medical marijuana states, the Obama administration has conducted more than 90 aggressive SWAT-style raids against patients and their providers.

The most recent tactic being used by the Obama administration to undermine state medical marijuana laws is for U.S. Attorneys to send letters to local and state officials threatening them with criminal prosecution if they implement well-planned out production and distribution licensing schemes. Justice Department letters have so far been sent to officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island and Washington. The letters have commonly been timed to coincide with legislative actions, which in several cases have had the effect of curtailing patients' rights and access to their medication. To help bring attention to this unwarranted harassment and intimidation, ASA gave President Obama a failing grade in a report card it issued in March.

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Rallies also occurred in Los Angeles, Detroit and a handful of other cities.

Focusing on medical marijuana states, ASA coordinated the delivery of "Cease and Desist" orders to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Attorneys' offices throughout the country, including in Arizona (Phoenix, Tucson), California (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco), Colorado (Denver), Maine (Portland), Michigan (Detroit, Lansing), Montana (Billings), Nevada (Las Vegas), Oregon (Eugene, Portland), Rhode Island (Providence), and Washington (Everett, Seattle, Spokane).

Last week, as Washington Governor Gregoire was vetoing provisions of a bill that would have licensed distribution facilities in that state, she said she wanted to discuss this issue with other governors to urge the Obama administration to reschedule medical marijuana. ASA is taking that proposal seriously and intends to follow up with governors from medical marijuana states to educate them on the rescheduling issue and how there has been a pending petition which has gone unanswered for 9 years.

Has the Federal Government Changed Its Policy on Medical Marijuana Enforcement or Just Changed Its Reasons for Continued Interference?

It would appear that raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in medical marijuana states have declined since President Obama’s Justice Department issued its infamous memorandum in October 2009. But, in fact, raids have continued at an alarming pace. For example, in the 16 months since the Obama Administration’s policy change, the DEA has conducted at least 43 raids in California, Colorado, Michigan and Nevada. That’s nearly 3 raids per month on average. Although arrests were not made at all of the raids, President Obama’s Justice Department has seen fit to indict and prosecute at least 24 patients and providers in connection with those federal actions. Can this really be the result of a new federal enforcement policy? Attorneys for two of the most recently indicted cultivators from Michigan vehemently argue that their young caregiver clients were in full compliance with state law. If that’s true, do these federal actions have more to do with hostile DEA agents and bitter U.S. Attorneys -- angry that their decades-long drug war has been narrowed -- or are they based on willful deception by President Obama’s Justice Department? Maybe both. While it could be argued that some of last month’s arrests in Las Vegas, Nevada, which resulted in a total of 15 indictments, was based on the fact that Nevada law does not allow for centralized distribution. And, yet, how are patients supposed to obtain their medicine if they are too sick or lack the skill to grow it themselves? Would the DEA prefer that patients seek out their medicine from the illicit market? And, why should the federal government be able to prosecute violations of state law in federal court, where patients are prevented from using a medical marijuana defense? Did the American people envision their tax dollars going to such harmful and unnecessary federal actions, especially after a policy was issued claiming that such actions would cease? With popular American support for medical marijuana at more than 80 percent, we think not. It’s time for the Obama Administration to deliver on its promise to leave patients alone. The DEA must take a hands-off approach to enforcement of medical marijuana production and distribution. Any allegations of local or state law violations should be prosecuted in state court, and not in federal court (i.e. no more federal indictments). In addition, DEA agents should be refusing to assist local law enforcement in raids on patients and providers, period. Only after the federal government stands down on this issue will states and their localities be able to effectively implement medical marijuana laws passed by the people.

ASA protests in MI and NV

Medical cannabis patients in Michigan are upset that the US Department of Justice wants the state to turn over the names of legal medical cannabis patients in that state. This latest escalation in federal interference and intimidation brought protesters out into the streets Lansing and Grand Rapids this week. ASA is grateful to Michigan Chapter Coordinator Robin Schneider for braving the cold weather to let lawmakers know that patients’ privacy must be protected. (Video from Las Vegas - click More.)



Meanwhile in Las Vegas, ASA Chapter Coordinator Eric Woodson rallied in opposition to recent Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids and arrests in the city. According to the DEA, the most recent arrests were connected to dispensary raids conducted in September of last year. Nevada law does not provide for community-based access programs, leaving many legal patients who cannot or will not grow medicine with no legal option.


It IS a Chronic Problem

On September 8, 2010, several search warrants were executed at dispensaries across Las Vegas.  Federal agents, assisted by local law enforcement, seized medicine, cash, and closed these dispensaries, proving that the Obama Administration AND the Department of Justice are not agencies of their word. On December 17, 2010, 3 criminal complaints were filed behind closed doors in federal court, and on January 6, 2011, these complaints were unsealed and 15 arrest warrants were issued.  Providers across Las Vegas and the entire state are under attack.  The joint task force is calling this siege Operation Chronic Problem.  Well, at least they've got one thing right.  Federal interference with state implementation of medical marijuana laws has been, and continues to be, a chronic problem. Stay tuned for news about this case, and we'll keep you in the loop about our next action to DEMAND an end to these raids and prosecutions. For the complaints, see here, here, and here. For more information about the arrests, see here and here.